Rick Gilbert is a violence designer and theater scholar based in Chicago. He co-founded R&D Choreography, with business partner David Gregory, in 1997, and since that time has designed violence for over three hundred fifty productions and taught stage combat at dozens of schools, universities, theaters, and private classes. He is an adjunct faculty member at Lewis University and North Park University. Rick has a BA from Brandeis, an MA from The University of Chicago, and is a PhD candidate at Loyola.
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We usually consider a fight choreographer’s job to be staging the fights so that they are safe. Certainly safety is essential: actors should not be getting hurt in the exercise of their art. But a violence designer is far more than a mere “safety foreman.” Like any other artist working in the theater, the violence designer’s primary role is doing interpretive work: making choices that help tell the story. Not the story of Hamlet, but the story of this Hamlet: that is to say, the story that this production of Hamlet is telling.